SFU Edges Out Defending Champs In Men’s Soccer Poll
Simon Fraser sophomore midfielder Mark Talisuna earned Second Team All-GNAC honors in 2019 after he scored three goals and dished out two assists.
Simon Fraser sophomore midfielder Mark Talisuna earned Second Team All-GNAC honors in 2019 after he scored three goals and dished out two assists.

Friday, August 13, 2021

PORTLAND, Ore. – Simon Fraser did not compete in 2020-21 due to the closure of the U.S./Canada border as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The men on Burnaby Mountain still found themselves at the top, however, as they are picked to win it all in the 2021 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Men’s Soccer Preseason Coaches Poll.

Simon Fraser received a total of 34 points and four first-place votes, edging out defending GNAC champion Western Washington, which received 31 points and the remaining two first-place votes.

Coming off a third-place finish in 2019, Seattle Pacific enters 2021 picked third in the preseason poll with 21 points. The Falcons are followed by Montana State Billings with 18 points. Rounding out the poll is Northwest Nazarene and Saint Martin’s with 11 points each.

Simon Fraser went 11-4-1 overall and 8-3-1 in conference play en route to a second-place finish in 2019. Simon Fraser ended its season with four straight wins to end conference play.

Head coach Clint Schneider returns 11 letterwinners and seven starters but will have to chase SFU’s first title since 2018 without brothers Marcello and Matteo Polisi. The 2017 GNAC Player of the Year, Marcello earned First-Team All-GNAC honors three times. Matteo also earned three first-team nods and was named a Second Team All-American by the United Soccer Coaches in 2019.

Returning for SFU are senior forward Connor Glennon and sophomore midfielder Mark Talisuna. Glennon scored four goals and dished out two assists on his way to earning Second Team All-GNAC honors in 2019. Talisuna also landed on the second team after he scored three goals to go with two assists.

Also returning for SFU is senior goalkeeper Aidan Bain, who finished 2019 with an 11-4-1 record, a 0.91 goals against average, 37 saves and five shutouts.

Western Washington ended its historic 2019 season with a 13-5-1 overall record and a 10-1-1 conference mark. The Vikings captured the GNAC title for the third time in program history and the first time in 11 years before their season ended in a second-round loss to St. Mary’s (Texas) in the NCAA Championships.

Western Washington went 3-1-1 in the COVID-shifted 2020-21 season. The Vikings return 24 letterwinners and 10 starters on their quest to defend their title under Greg Brisbon, who enters his ninth season as head coach.

Anchoring the Vikings’ defense are senior defender Camron Miller and sophomore goalkeeper Brandon Locke. A First Team All-GNAC selection in 2019, Miller scored four goals and helped to lead a defense that completed eight shutouts. Miller scored a goal and had an assist in five starts in 2020-21. Locke earned second-team honors in 2019 after he led the conference with a 0.73 goals against average, a .808 save percentage and seven shutouts. Locke went 1-0-0 in goal for the Vikings in 2020-21 with 10 saves and no goals allowed.

Senior midfielder Drew Farnsworth returns after being named an honorable mention for the second straight season in 2019. Farnsworth started in all 19 of the Vikings’ matches, scoring four goals to go with two assists.

Seattle Pacific won each of its last four matches in 2019 to finish conference play at 6-6-0 (7-9-1 overall). The Falcons went 3-2-1 in the modified 2020-21 season. The Falcons return 24 letterwinners and 10 starters under interim head coach Kevin Sakuda.

Leading the charge on offense is senior forward Titus Grant, a two-time First-Team All-GNAC selection. Grant tallied nine goals, seven assists and 25 points in 2019 and led the conference with 55 shots. He finished 2020-21 with one goal and two assists. The Falcons will also rely on senior midfielder Travis Swallow, an honorable mention selection in 2019 who scored two goals and added an assist in 2020-21.

Montana State Billings head coach Thomas Chameraud returns seven letterwinners and three starters to a team that finished in fourth place in 2019 with a 5-6-1 conference record (8-9-2 overall). The Yellowjackets played just two matches in 2020-21, finishing with a 1-0-1 record against NAIA crosstown rival Rocky Mountain.

The Yellowjackets return one all-conference selection in senior defender Luca Battistotti. Battistotti earned second-team honors in 2019, playing in all 19 matches and starting in 18. He led a defense that finished with six shutouts and ranked third in the conference with 24 goals allowed and a 1.22 goals against average. The Yellowjackets also expect senior Paul Cuevas and junior Bryan Maxwell to bolster the defense.

Entering his first season as head coach at Northwest Nazarene is John Powell. Powell takes over a program that finished in seventh place in 2019 at 3-9-0 (7-11-0 overall). The Nighthawks made strides in 2020-21, finishing the COVID-shifted season with a 4-2-1 record.

The Nighthawks return 17 letterwinners and nine starters, including senior defender Lorenzo Valentini and senior forward Jake Levine. Valentini was named the 2019 GNAC Newcomer of the Year after leading NNU in three shutouts and scoring five goals. Valentini also scored three goals in 2020-21. Levine earned second-team honors for the second straight season in 2019 after finishing tied for second with nine goals. Levine scored three goals and had a pair of assists in 2020-21.

The 2021 season will be Rob Walker’s 15th as head coach at Saint Martin’s. The Saints finished 2019 in fifth place at 4-7-1 (9-8-2 overall). The Saints went 2-7-1 in 2020-21, which included six matches against GNAC opponents.

Returning for the Saints are senior defender Jose Marquez and senior forward Jason Fairhurst. Both were Honorable Mention All-GNAC selections in 2019. Fairhurst notched two goals in 2020-21 while Marquez finished with one goal and one assist.

The 2021 GNAC men’s soccer season kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 2, with five away matches. Conference play begins on Sept. 30 with Saint Martin’s hosting Simon Fraser and Northwest Nazarene hosting Western Washington.

Rank Team (1st Place Votes) 2019 Record GNAC Record (Finish) Points
1. Simon Fraser (4) 11-4-1 8-3-1 (2nd) 34
2. Western Washington (2) 13-5-1 10-1-1 (1st) 31
3. Seattle Pacific 7-9-1 6-6-0 (3rd) 21
4. Montana State Billings 8-9-2 5-6-1 (4th) 18
T5. Northwest Nazarene 7-11-0 3-9-0 (7th) 11
T5. Saint Martin's 9-8-2 4-7-1 (5th) 11
Points awarded on a 6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.